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Monday Message – 22.05.23

It might finally be time to cast a clout as the sun warms our skies and rips apart the grey to dance in blue.

Whilst there may be an extra spring in the step of each barrister, I am asking you to once again sit down at your screens and join an important event this evening on zoom at 18.00.

It is about working conditions in the courts and improvements that are being made, or need to be made, to better enable a functioning criminal justice system.

After months of collating your messages and emails and communicating them where appropriate, there now is an opportunity for you to ensure that your daily court issues are addressed.

Complaining in robing rooms is a release, however my focus always is on remedy and change.

Barristers should never be an afterthought in the function of the criminal justice system. We are integral and are entitled to be so treated.

Working Conditions

The Senior Presiding Judge, Lord Justice Edis has agreed to speak and to take questions this evening, 22nd May, starting at 18.00, on topics from daily listing to conferences in cells to the common platform.

He will be alongside HHJ Chris Kinch KC, Resident Judge of Woolwich Crown Court, who will speak about listing, CVP, pre-trial reviews in person and even security getting into court.

Further to my Monday Message last week, some questions were sent through by CBA members.

Please do forward other questions.

There also will be an opportunity for questions in response to information given during the event. Above all, please come. It is an excellent opportunity for barristers across the country to hear the judicial perspective, as well as ensure that the cracks in the interface with the Criminal Bar are understood.

The access link will be circulated to all members this afternoon.   ‘Doors open’ at 18.00.

“Spring” Conference

10th June 2023 Midland Hotel, Manchester.

Tickets are available.

Come and learn from the best, and also take time to reconnect with friends and colleagues.

I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones.

Our keynote speech is by Dame Amanda Yip.

The Common Sergeant, HHJ Richard Marks KC, will provide the sentencing update.

And there are many more excellent speakers.

You can book your ticket via the CBA website or by emailing Aaron.

International Sub-Committee

Event at Doughty Street Chambers on 31st May 2023 18.00.

Come and learn about opportunities in international crime.

We will be joined by Misa Zgonec-Rozej from the Hague as well as other speakers.

See you there!

HMCPSI request

Following a recent meeting I had with Andrew Cayley KC, please consider whether you can assist with the following request concerning disclosure in large, complex cases.

Correspond directly with HMCPSI at the email below:

“His Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) are the independent inspectorate for the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). Following two recent high-profile failures in SFO prosecutions, the Attorney General has requested that HMCPSI complete an inspection into SFO disclosure. Historically, there has been a recurrent narrative around the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996, the Code of Practice and the disclosure regime and whether or not it is fit for purpose particularly in very large complex cases. As part of this inspection HMCPSI intend to look at whether the current disclosure regime is effective for all parties in these particular cases and we would therefore like to invite the views of defence counsel and defence firms who deal with fraud, corruption and bribery prosecutions.

We are interested in speaking to defence practitioners about their experience of defending against SFO prosecutions as part of the evidence gathering stage of the inspection. If you are willing and able to assist with us with this important inspection, please contact HMCPSI via e-mail at [email protected]. We are interested not only in cases where there have been recent failures but also those cases where it is felt that the disclosure regime has worked successfully, so that we can also highlight good practice for future improvement.”


The CLAAB AGFS sub-Committee, which was set up last year, met last week, with additional members from other legal aid stakeholders.

The CBA ensured that its junior members are represented.

The MoJ is focusing on long-term reform, which is positive.  However, we need to take care not to be dragged into endless data-collecting and lose sight of CLAR.

The CBA YBC also met with the Bar Council YBC and LCCSA about magistrates’ courts fees. We will keep you informed.

Women in Criminal Law

On 19th May, WICL celebrated its 5th birthday with a dinner in London. It was an inspiring evening, particularly being in a room full of barristers, solicitors, and paralegals in their early years in practice. The night buzzed with ideas, strength, support and positivity.

It wasn’t a women-only event and there were men out in support of their female colleagues.

Congratulations to Katy Thorne KC and all the committee who organised the night.

I felt honoured to have my place at the table, as Chair of the CBA, and in full confidence that my seat wasn’t a highchair.

WICL is spreading across the country and I was delighted to meet the founders of WICL Manchester.

Thank you all for your kindness, and the dancing!  You know who you are!


Isabella Forshall KC

My fingers feel heavy, typing.

Issy was a beloved member of my chambers, Doughty Street, and a friend.

She died suddenly last week; too soon and too young.

She was self-deprecating, funny and brilliant.

Seeing Issy meant that the day would get better, no matter how it was progressing.

I knew her more in recent years; particularly over the last year as she was the most incredible support to me, as Chair of the CBA.

She said what she thought and didn’t pull punches. Where she saw a darker side of our profession – where there was sexism – she called it out to me, so that I did not regret facing it down; with the follow-up that it would not be forgotten.

She didn’t forget. She was loyal and decent and generous.

Her last email to me was on 5th May 2023.

I had messaged the Doughty Street crime team to see if anyone might be around to join a small group of us at Gray’s Inn, marking the historical moment of the King’s Coronation by gathering around a newly planted tree.

Issy had a habit of emailing all of chambers by mistake and so she wouldn’t mind me sharing this email.

I can hear her voice, gently mocking, but always with an arm firmly around the shoulder:

I am, I promise you, not in chambers today but at home in the People’s Republic of Hackney. I know you will pull off the ordained tree-grovelling with your accustomed grace and style and I really wish you luck with it.  Nobody could do this better than you and it would def not go better if I was there. “


Issy was a pupil at Wellington Street chambers, where she defended those from Greenham Common and the Miners’ strike. I am told that she cried when one of her miner clients was sent to prison and was incandescent at the bench. Another barrister spoke to her about not wearing her emotion on her sleeve, but she cared too much.

Issy loved and cared about people.


Issy was one of the founding members of Doughty Street Chambers.

She applied for silk late, in 2010, and had to be persuaded to do so.

Of course she was appointed straight away. “It’s only because I’m such an old lady” she said to me when I congratulated her.

Issy flew as a silk. She was a brilliant barrister – intelligent, skilled and with the dash of mischief that would melt even the most reluctant juror.

Doughty Street Co-Head of Crime

She became Doughty Street’s co-Head of the Crime team, a position in which she thrived. Her support of the team was truly motivational. Issy’s praising and encouraging  messages, particularly to our juniors, were daily fodder. Issy was dedicated to the Criminal Bar and gave up her time for us all.

In January, I told her that I would be on a Radio 4 programme about the Crown Court backlogs. Shortly after my email, I was dropped by Radio 4; knocked off the news by a report into crab deaths in Teesside –  a source of amusement in itself. Whilst the “don’t be crabby” jokes rolled in, Issy missed the update and sat through the entire PM broadcast, describing the unhappy experience to me later in suitably irreverent terms.

I know that Issy was a friend to many in our legal world.  There are many who would like to write, but their pain is too raw.

Doughty Street has opened a book of Condolences, if you would like to leave your memories.

Condolence book here

Condolences to Tim and their children and grandchild and wider family and friends and colleagues.

Final Words

Issy actually read my MMs, forcefully pinging a message across when she enjoyed them and remaining quiet when she wasn’t so enthralled.

I know she would hate this fuss and tell me to wind in the words.

Issy, I hope that I haven’t let you down.

I am devastated that there won’t be any more laughs with you; the laughs that make your belly ache and your eyes swell with happy tears.

Issy followed her own path. She was unique and this in itself added to the weight of her talent.

Above all, Issy flung her arms around those she met on the way and ensured that a trudge became a dance. Issy always will be ahead, beckoning on others, undimmed.

She was the best of barristers.

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